The World Is a Beautiful Place...
Illusory Walls



by Xenophanes EMERITUS
October 12th, 2021 | 608 replies

Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The world is a beautiful place, but we have to make it that way.

My first exposure to The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die was over a decade ago and I felt nothing. Crammed into a ***ty Midwestern bar, I saw a mess of emo stalwarts. They were ragged and overly sentimental; vital and genuine, but rough and overzealous. They’ve existed in countless permutations since then, morphing into something altogether different from the great emo-revival-hope of the early 2010s.

The World Is of today is not the same band I saw those years ago. Contorting the post-rock grandeur of their debut, the gleaming theatrics of Harmlessness, and melancholy of Always Foreign, The World Is have collected every piece of themselves for their latest incarnation. In this way, Illusory Walls is both surprising and obvious. It’s darker, weirder, and heavier than everything before it. But they’ve signaled a shift in this direction in the past, most notably on 2017’s Always Foreign. Yet who could have predicted the same band belting out platitudes on “Gordon Paul” would aggressively take on the American class system with the progressive and compelling “Invading the World of the Guilty as a Spirit of Vengeance”? These are themes they’ve explored before, as vocalist David Bello has traditionally focused his lens on the plight of working class Appalachians. Hefty and po-faced, but it avoids nihilism and the audacious depressiveness of Always Foreign by reminding us “The world is a beautiful place, but we have to make it that way.”

Despite trimming themselves down to five members, Illusory W alls finds the band at their most adventurous and resolute. They’re downright progressive, and damn near metal at times. Bello and Katie Dvorak still trade vocal duties, guitars still loop, and sudden climaxes are still the backbone—the same band still exists, but experimental riffs and melodic shifts feel revelatory. The band worked separately due to COVID-19 restrictions and it feels as such—the album is bursting with about faces and incongruous tracks. Opener “Afraid to Die” enters softly and explodes with anthem-like drive. “Died in the Prison of Holy Office” moves with a deliberate pace before hammering into a minor key dirge-like chorus. This uneven collection provides a discography’s worth of diversity—the punchy rock of “Queen Sophie for President” makes for a compelling foil to the apocalyptic bombast of “Trouble.”

The record climaxes in a show stopping double feature: “Infinite Josh” and “Fewer Afraid.” Consuming 35 minutes of the album, both tracks see The World Is at their most audacious and ambitious. Do they justify these run times? Not entirely. But even in the sections that linger a little too long, there’s a hypnotic allure. “Infinite Josh” is one of the most beautiful pieces the band has ever written—consisting of three extended movements, each building to a powerful head. As Bello croons “the years fly by,” the backing guitar moves playfully in a complex pattern, making for a compelling and absorbing listen, despite feeling long-winded. It peaks in a chugging guitar driven climax which feels positively life-affirming. “Fewer Afraid” is just as enrapturing but the more complex of the two. Bringing back the spoken word from albums past launches the song into some of the most uplifting moments of the band’s discography. Together they hold an album’s worth of ideas, marrying the band’s penchant for wonderfully disjointed songwriting and soul-swelling theatrics.

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die’s Illusory Walls is an all-on-the-table record. With furious drama, callbacks to older tracks, and references to their own unwieldy name, the band’s fourth record would make for a theatrical swan song. Lord knows the revolving door that is their lineup lends itself to an unexpected and sudden demise. The World Is, however, appear to be tighter and more focused than ever before. They aren’t the same band I saw over a decade ago, and I can’t wait to see what they become next.

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user ratings (350)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

joint is full of amazing ideas and the drumming really lifts it. great review, great album.

Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2021


Return to staffness Xeno, we need you.

Beautifully conscise review my dear, I never enjoyed this band but this album changed the script.

Love the tracks with Katie upfront in particular, and Infinite Josh.

Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules, review rules!

Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.7

agreed about the drums Calc they’re nuts.

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

Drums have honestly always been top tier with TWIABP

"Never get better and never do anything" is one of the biggest earworms of the year on Queen Sophie

That long bridge(?) in the middle of Invading the World with the alternating tempo-feels is going to be awesome live

Infinite Josh is >huge<

The way Fewer Afraid builds and builds for minutes on end up until it crashes with the Mount Hum reference is so dang cathartic. And the line "I'm not ready to die" is itself perfectly immense before the final Getting Sodas explosion.

@review, hard agree on the record tackling heavy and depressing topics but in a hopeful way, but also not like optimistic that it will all work out in the end, rather as a call to action to work together, be with each other, and >make< things better. And building on what you said re:your analysis of Infinite Josh, TWIABP manage to communicate these feelings in the actual music, not just the lyrical content. Makes a strong case for the inability to separate art from artist, as this music screams the messages of the words.

October 12th 2021


"Believes in something watching over" bf

"Thinks the world's fucked up and brutal" gf

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.5

great review for a wonderful album

Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

Probably best art of the year.

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.5

^yeah, it's definitely up there. reminds me a bit of Simon Stalenhag's work

also, this is a fantastic album, and this review does a great job of encapsulating why. gj Xeno

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.6

this is their best, colossal album but absolutely airtight

great writeup too

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

Great album- only one or two songs that I didn’t enjoy. 2nd half is incredible

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

That summary is a beauty

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Good review. Small typo: "Together the hold an album’s worth of ideas"

You touched on a lot of the aspects here that I was secretly hoping you would: their turn towards an almost progressive style, the jarring dynamic shifts, how the longer tracks overstay their welcome but still manage to hypnotize, and the usage of their band namesake on the finale and how it almost feels like a farewell/career summation (very happy you used it as the review summary btw). This is a superb prog-emo endeavor that sneakily feels a little like a Circa Survive album. I might still slightly prefer Harmlessness, but this is a close second in their discography and might one day become my favorite of theirs.

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 2.5

Starts strong, ends strong, but why do I find most of the middle of this completely mediocre?

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 2.5

(The album, not the review lol)

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

woooaa, now I'm getting the art. so cool

Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

some very post-hardcorey riffs in here

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

The album just rocks. Its barely emo revival, I dare say they've pretty much evolved the genre.

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Whole album feels very Magnum Opus-y for them. Wouldn't be surprised to see a more lengthy downtime after this one. The singles are still my favorite tracks and the rest is growing on me quickly.

The best part about this so far is that every band member at some point delivers something I can't get out of my head.

October 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, dope record and great review.

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